Just got through reading Bill O’Reilly’s latest column, in which he quotes questionable poll data and insists that the New York Times is experiencing financial troubles because of its diabolical left-wing bias.
This has become a favorite canard for O’Reilly, whose antipathy toward MSNBC for employing Keith Olbermann has led him to make some remarkably specious and unsubstantiated statements of late, like his assertion that there’s a secret quid pro quo between NBC News and the Obama administration. A presidential appointment for GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to join the president’s team of economic advisers was thus “payback for Immelt allowing NBC News to openly support Obama for president,” O’Reilly flatly said on his Fox News Channel program, without a shred of proof.
The line that really stuck out in a column full of howlers, though, was this one: “In this very intense marketplace, insulting half the country on a daily basis may not be a great business plan.”
Hate to rain on your parade, Bill, but it seems to be working out pretty well for FNC’s Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, doesn’t it? In fact, playing to half the country — or the slightly less than half that voted Republican in the last election — is of course precisely Fox’s business plan, and it’s a brilliant one. If you only need 2-3 million viewers to be an unqualified hit in the cable space, catering directly to them — as Fox did in actively championing the Tea Party protests — is a shrewd marketing maneuver. And fortunately, Nielsen meters aren’t equipped to discern how many of those viewers are living in armed bunkers or wearing tin-foil hats.
Newspapers have plenty of problems with their financial model these days, and the Times (or for that matter, Variety) is hardly immune to these forces. But BO’s assessment of the source of those woes is just plain BS.